UNION WITH JESUS
Jesus said, 'I and My Father are one' (John x. 30), and it is His loving purpose that you and
I shall be able to say that too, and say it now in this present time, in the face of the devil and in
holy, triumphant defiance of a frowning world and of shrinking, trembling flesh.
There is a union with Jesus as intimate as that of the branch and the vine, or as that of the
various members of the body with the head, or as that between Jesus and the Father. This is shown
by such Scriptures as that in which Jesus said, 'I am the Vine, ye are the branches' (John xv. 5), and
in His great intercessory prayer, where He prays, 'that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in
Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us' (John xvii. 21).
It is also shown in such passages as that in which Paul, speaking of Jesus, says that God
'hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church,
which is His body' (Eph. i. 22, 23), and again that we 'may grow up into Him in all things, which is
the Head, even Christ' (Eph. iv. 15), and again, 'For both He that sanctifieth and they who are
sanctified are all of one' (Heb. ii. 11). It is also shown clearly in Paul's testimony, 'I am crucified
with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Gal. ii. 20).
This union is, of course, not physical, but spiritual, and can be known to the one who has
entered into it by the direct witness of the Spirit; but it can be known to others only by its effects
and fruits in the life.
This spiritual union is mysterious and yet simple, and many of our everyday relationships
partially illustrate it. Where two people have interests or purposes the same, they are to that extent
one. A Republican or Democrat is one with every other man of his party throughout the whole
country in so far as they hold similar principles. This is an imperfect sort of union. And yet it is
union. Our General may be in any part of the world, pushing forward his mighty schemes of
conquest for Jesus, and every other Salvationist, however humble he may be, just in so far as he
has the same spirit and ideals as the General, is one with him. A husband and wife, or a boy and
his mother, may be separated by continents and seas, and yet be one. For six months three thousand
miles of wild waves rolled between me and a little woman I rejoiced to call 'wife,' but my heart
was as absolutely true to her and my confidence in her fidelity was as supreme as now when we sit
side by side -- and we were one.
But more perfect, more tender, more holy and infinitely more self-consuming and ennobling
and enduring is the union of the soul with Jesus than is any other possible relationship. It is like the
union of the bay with the sea. It is a union of nature, a commingling of spirit, an eternal marriage of
heart, and soul, and mind.
I. It is a union of will. Jesus said, 'I came down from Heaven, not to do Mine own will, but
the will of Him that sent Me' (John vi. 38), and again,' My meat is to do the will of Him that sent
Me' (John iv. 34). And so it is with those who are one with Jesus. The Psalmist said, 'I delight to
do Thy will, O my God' (Ps. xl. 8), and that is the testimony of every one who has entered into this
divine union. There may, and doubtless will, be times when this will is hard for flesh and blood,
but even then the soul says with its Lord, 'Not my will, but Thine, be done' (Luke xxii. 42), and
prays always, 'Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven' (Matt. vi. 10).
In the very nature of things there can be no union with Jesus without this union of will, for
there is really very little of a man but his will. That is really all he can call his own. His mind,
with all its splendid powers and possibilities, may be reduced to idiocy; he may be robbed of his
property. His health, and even his life may be taken away from him, but who can enter into the
domain of his will and rob him of that?
I say it reverently, so far as we know, not even God Himself can compel a man's will. God
wants to enter into a partnership, an infinitely tender and exalting fellowship, a spiritual marriage
with the will of man. He approaches man with tremendous inducements and motives of infinite
profit and loss, and yet the man may resist and utterly thwart the loving thought and purpose of
God. He can refuse to surrender his will. But surrender he must, if there is to be a union between
him and God, for God's will, based as it is on eternal righteousness, founded in infinite knowledge
and wisdom and love, is unchangeable, and man's highest good is in a hearty and affectionate
surrender to it and a union with it.
II. It is a union of faith -- of mutual confidence and esteem. God trusts him, and he trust
God. God can entrust him with the honour of His name and His holy character in the midst of a
world of rebels. God can empower him and beautify him with His Spirit and adorn him with all
heavenly graces, without any fear that the man will take the glory of these things to himself. God
can heap upon him riches and treasures and honors without any fear that the man will use them for
selfish ends or prostitute them to unholy purposes.
Again, the man trusts God. He trusts God when he cannot trace Him. He has confidence in
the faithfulness and love of God in adversity as well as in prosperity. He does not have to be fed
on sweetmeats and live in sunshine and sleep on roses in order to believe that God is for him. God
can mingle bitter with all His sweets, and allow the thorns to prick him, and the storm-clouds to
roll all about him, and yet he will stubbornly trust on. Like Job, his property may be swept away in
a day, and his children die about him, and yet with Job he will say, 'The Lord gave, and the Lord
hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord' (Job. i. 21), and still trust on.
His own life may be menaced and be filled with weariness and pain, and his faithless wife
bid him curse God and die, and yet he will say, 'What? shall we receive good at the hand of God,
and shall we not receive evil?' (Job. ii. 10), and still trust on.
His friends may gather about him and attack his Christian integrity and character, and
foolishly assault the foundations of his faith by assuring him that if he were right with God these
calamities could never befall him. Yet he will look up from his ash-heap and out of his utter wreck
and ruin and desolation, cry, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.' (Job. xiii. 15). And
though communities or nations conspire against him, he will say with David, 'The Lord is my light
and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
. . Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise
against me, in this will I be confident' (Ps. xxvii. 1, 3).
A woman said to me the other day, 'I dread to think of the end of the world. It makes me
afraid.' But though worlds, like drunken men, tumble from their orbits, and though the universe
crash into ruin, the child-like confidence of the man who trusts God will enable him to sing with
the Psalmist, 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we
fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling
thereof ' (Ps. xlvi. 1-3).
God can be familiar with such a man. He can take all sorts of liberties with his property,
his reputation, his position, his friends, his health, his life, and allow devils and men to taunt him;
but the man unchangeably fixed in his estimate of God's holy character and everlasting love, will
still triumphantly trust on.
III. It is a union of suffering, of sympathy. Once when I was passing through what seemed to
me a perfect hell of spiritual temptation and sufferings, the Lord supported me with this text, 'In all
their affliction He was afflicted' (Isa. lxiii. 9). The prophet refers in these words to the afflictions
of the children of Israel in Egypt and in the wilderness after their escape from the hard bondage of
Pharaoh, and he says in all their sufferings Jesus suffered with them.
Let her child be racked with pain and scorched with fever and choked with croup, but the
mother suffers more than the child; and so let the people of God be sore tempted and tried, and
Jesus agonizes with them. He is the world's great Sufferer. His passion is for ever. He once tasted
death for every man. He suffers still with every man. There is not a cry of anguish, nor a heartache,
nor a pang of spiritual pain in all the world that does not reach His ear and touch His heart, and
stir all His mighty sympathies. But especially does He suffer and sympathize with His own
believing children. And in turn the man who is one with Jesus suffers and sympathizes with Jesus.
Any injury to the cause of Christ causes him more pain than any personal loss. He mourns
over the desolations of Zion more than over the loss of his property. The lukewarmness of
Christians cuts him to the heart. The cry of the heathen for the gospel of salvation is to him the cry
of the travail, the agony of Jesus Himself. He gladly says, with David, 'The reproaches of them that
reproached Thee have fallen upon me' (Ps. lxix. 9). He esteems the reproach of Christ greater
treasure than all the pleasure and power and profits of this world combined. As the true wife
gladly suffers privation and shame and reproach with her husband whom she knows to be righteous
and honorable, so he who is one with Jesus rejoices that he is 'counted worthy to suffer shame for
His name' (Acts v.41). He suffers and sympathizes with Jesus.
IV. It is a union of purpose. The great mass of men serve God for reward; they do not want
to go to Hell; they want to go to Heaven. And that is right. But it is not the highest motive. There is
a union with Jesus in which the soul is not so anxious to escape Hell as it is to be free from sin,
and in which Heaven is not so desirable as holiness. The soul in this state thinks very little about
its reward. His smile of approval is its Heaven. The housekeeper wants wages, but the wife never
thinks of such a thing. She serves for very love. She is one in purpose with her husband. His
triumphs are hers. His losses are hers. All he has is hers and she is his. And, as the Apostle says,
'For all things are yours, . . . and ye are Christ's' (I Cor. iii. 21, 23). The will of God is the
supreme good of this man. Some one has said that if two angels were sent into this world, one of
whom was to rule it and the other was to sweep street crossings, that the sweeper would be so
satisfied with his Heavenly Father's will that he would not exchange places with the ruler.
The purpose of Jesus is to save the world and uphold the honor of God, and establish truth
in the lives, the hearts, the laws, the customs of men, and this is the purpose of this man.
In order to do this, Jesus sacrificed every earthly prospect, and laid down His life, and this
man does the same. He does not stand in the presence of the world's great crying need and hesitate
and wonder if the Lord really wants him to give a few cents or dollars for the salvation of the
heathen. He does not quibble as to whether God really requires him to make the sacrifice and
leave his dog-kennel and chicken coop and barn and house furnished a little below the standard of
beauty and luxury set by his ungodly neighbors. He does not struggle and kick against the pricks
when he feels God would have him forsake business and preach the gospel. He would loathe
himself to have such mean thoughts.
He does not say, 'If I were rich,' but out of the abundance of his poverty he pours into the
lap of the world's need, and like the widow he gladly gives all his living to save the world. When
God looks about for a man to stand up for His honour and warn a wicked world and offers terms of
peace to sinners, this man does not say, 'If I were only educated or gifted I would go,' but with a
heart flaming with love for Jesus and the world He has bought with His Blood, cries out, 'Here am
I, send me.' It can be said of him as it was of his Lord 'The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up'
(John ii. 17).
A young carpenter in New England, whose name was unknown, came every few months to
the Divisional Headquarters, and gave a hundred or more dollars for the work of God in India, or
some other portion of the world. He was one with Jesus in His purpose to save the world.
On a bitter wintry day a poor woman came to John Wesley's apartment in Oxford
University. She was shivering with cold. Wesley asked her why she did not dress more warmly
She replied that she had no warmer garments. When she was gone, Wesley looked at the pictures
on his walls, and said to himself in substance, 'If my Lord should come, would He be pleased to
see these on my walls when His poor are suffering with cold?' Then he sold the pictures and gave
to the poor. And in this way began that mighty and life-long beneficence and almost matchless
self-sacrifice that has led to the blessing of millions upon millions of men.
O my God, that Thy people might see what union with Thee really means.
Do you ask, 'How can I enter into this union?'
1. Read God's promises until you see that it is possible. Especially read and ponder over
the fifteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Gospel according to John.
2. Read and ponder over the commandments until you see that it is necessary. Without this
union here there will be no union in eternity.
3. Make the sacrifice that is necessary in order to become one with Jesus.
The woman who will be the true wife of a man must be prepared to give up all other
lovers, leave her home, and forsake father, mother, brothers and sisters, change her name, and
utterly identify herself her prospects for life, her all, with the man she loves. And so must you be
prepared to identify yourself utterly with Christ, to be hated, despised, rejected, crucified of men;
but armed, baptized with the Holy Ghost, and crowned of God.
Does your heart consent to this, my brother? If so, make a perpetual covenant with your
Lord just now. Do it intelligently. Do it with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, and God will
seal you for His own. Do not waver. Do not doubt. Do not cast away your confidence because of
your feelings or lack of feelings, but stand by your facts. Walk by faith, and God will soon prove
His ownership in you in a way that will be altogether satisfactory to both your head and your heart,
and convincing to men and devils.